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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Will Bears Ears Be the Next Standing Rock?

President Trump’s plan to review and possibly reverse his predecessor’s protection of a wild swath of Utah threatens Indian sovereignty.
READ: Will Bears Ears Be the Next Standing Rock? - NYTimes.com

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Defending the Law that Defends our Children #NARF #ICWA

Boy in regaliaCongress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to put an end to these destructive practices. ICWA ensures that tribes have notice and an opportunity to act before a state tries to remove children from their home and place. It also provides preferred placements for Native children in need of a safe and loving home—recognizing the immense harm done by removing children not only from their families, but from their cultures.
The Indian Child Welfare Act is under attack and we need your help.
In the mid-1970s, a congressional investigation revealed that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families and placing them in non-Native foster or adoptive homes or residential institutions, never to see their families or communities again. In many cases, state officials removed children because they were unable or unwilling to understand tribal cultures and societies. The removals and placements were devastating to the children, their families, and tribes. Broken families, loss of culture, and forced assimilation led to identity problems, incarceration, addictions, and suicide.
Although a handful of jurisdictions have remained resistant to its provisions and goals, ICWA has been largely successful in increasing tribal participation in children’s cases and ensuring the rights of Indian children are protected. In particular, the last decade has seen many states passing their own ICWAs, and tribal nations are more actively asserting their rights in ICWA proceedings. Continuing this trend, the Bureau of Indian Affairs recently published updated Guidelines for ICWA to clarify what the law requires and ensure that every state provides Native children with all the protections required by ICWA. In February 2015, the BIA announced it intended to take these reforms even further by proposing, for the first time ever, binding federal regulations governing ICWA’s implementation.
 
This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children as well as have ICWA itself declared unconstitutional. Capitalizing on the outcome in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, ICWA’s opponents are now filing lawsuits across the Nation challenging many of ICWA’s foundational protections, including the membership status of Indian children, the obligation to notify the child’s Tribe of an ICWA case, the right of a tribe to intervene in an ICWA case, and the application of ICWA’s foster care and adoptive placement preferences.
These lawsuits represent the greatest threat to ICWA yet. Not since its enactment has ICWA come under such a direct, coordinated attack by those committed to ending the protections it guarantees every Native child. These attacks against ICWA will not go unanswered. NARF, together with coalition partners such as the National Indian Child Welfare Association and the National Congress of American Indians, is already mobilizing to defend ICWA so that it can continue to work for Native children and families.
Stand up for the rights of Native children – and all children – and JOIN US.
Matthew Newman

On Monday, August 11, 2015, NARF Staff Attorney Matthew Newman was a guest on the Native America Calling radio show. He, and other panelists, discussed the Indian Child Welfare Act and its future.  Listen to their discussion from the Native America Calling website.

Related NARF News:

Source: Defending the Law that Defends Our Children - Native American Rights Fund : Native American Rights Fund

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Just Watch Me


It is 1969. Paulette Steeves, a ward of the provincial government and incorrigible runaway, has been incarcerated here since the age of 13.
“We were extremely poor,” says Steeves. Born in Whitehorse, her childhood was cut from the cloth of aboriginal marginalization. “My mom was an alcoholic. My parents split when I was five. My stepdad used to beat the shit out of her.”
By the age of 12, Steeves was running away regularly. She dropped out of school, picked apples, panhandled, and made her way to Vancouver, where she survived as a street kid before landing in Willingdon at age 13.
“My mother, who was 80 per cent native, warned us never to tell anyone we were Indians,” she says. The reason was heartbreaking: Long before Paulette and and her siblings were born, her mother had two children who were taken from her by authorities and put up for adoption.
“She never saw them again, and she never, ever got over it,” says Steeves. “Because of that, it was really important to her to hide our Indian-ness.”
Part of racism is who is included and who is excluded, socially, economically and historically. Steeves grew up on the outside, excluded first from her own culture, and also outside of mainstream white culture.

READ: ‘Just watch me’: Challenging the ‘origin story’ of Native Americans | Vancouver Sun
[http://vancouversun.com/news/national/aboriginal-anthropologist]

National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network


Saturday, April 29, 2017

PART FOUR: Victims of Adoptions and Lies:: Ceremony for Adoptees

By Trace Hentz

I woke up with two thoughts: there are two victims of adoption who need help and not necessarily from each other: the adoptee and the first mother. Each has its own burden and neither can heal the other.

“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile I keep dancing.” That is a line in the book “Bird by Bird” by Ann Lamott.  Her comical book offers instructions on writing and life and so far -- I’ve had good belly laughs. Yep, Ann made a funny book!
In part two, Ann was fighting herself over jealousy of another writer friend. She wrote, “Sometimes this human stuff is slimy and pathetic - jealousy especially so - but better to feel it and talk about it and walk through it than to spend a lifetime poisoned by it."

Poison is nothing to mess with.  I spoke with an adoptee friend last night and Levi is sure we adoptees need to create new ceremonies, even some just for us adoptees. I was nodding at every word Levi said.  A lifetime of isolation from what we know to be ours, our blood rights as Indigenous People, our language and culture and the healing offered by participating in ceremony, it was not ours growing up white and adopted and assimilated.

But we adoptees are not victims, Levi said. No, we are changed by adoption but not its victims.

I thought about ceremony, what ceremony I missed growing up, and what other Indian people probably took for granted growing up. That does make me jealous. I didn’t get to meet my grandmothers in flesh, only in dreams.
I am sad I do not how to make my own regalia. I see others dance at powwow and wish someone had time to teach me what I need to know.

I can think of a million things I’d like to know. When I met relatives in Illinois last year, I was over the moon happy.  My Harlow cousins filled many holes in my heart.
I am in reunion. Jealousy is not my poison.

For those not in reunion, their hearts ache.  We need to find a way to heal them.

Levi Eagle Feather has contributed to this blog.

This is the lost post, Part 4 of the series.

Six-Part Series: Victims of Adoption and Lies, Control the Message

By Trace L. Hentz (formerly DeMeyer) This post is a reblog

I woke up with two thoughts: there are two victims of adoption who need help and not necessarily from each other: the adoptee and the first mother. Each has its own burden and neither can heal the other.



Part 3:  CONTROL THE MESSAGE

Since I started this Victims series, I’ve heard from two new adoptees who came across this blog. I’m very happy – not because they are adopted but because we can now connect and relate as members of our own unique band of Native American adoptees. As each week passes, and the more I post about this history, perhaps even more adoptees will contact me.*
“Victim” is a word I don’t like to use but in the case of Native adoptees, it fits.
The adoption projects and programs in North America (US and Canada) intended to wipe out an entire population of Indian children by assimilating them (making them white) using closed adoptions.  It was officially called the Indian Adoption Projects – but Canada and many states had their own programs like New York State’s “Our Indian Program” and the Mormon’s own Indian Adoption Program.
How do you damage or destroy a culture? You abduct and claim their children as your own.
How this was planned and orchestrated is still kept under legal wraps, but the thousands of Indian children who were transracially adopted are certainly “victims” of planned ethnic cleansing or ancestricide. Not telling adoptive parents they were part of this program is quite a significant lie of omission, too. (Someday my hope is America will see an apology and eventually all parents will be informed. In the older days this country tried eugenics and sterilizing undesirables, and it’s usually people who are considered minorities who are targets for this treatment.)
In adoption terminology, we are called transracial adoptees because we were raised outside our culture, in our case First Nations and America Indian territories. We’re raised by non-Indian parents, far from the reservation. That would certainly destroy any contact and connections to our first families. With a closed adoption, no one would ever be able to find anyone, right?
It failed. My second book Two Worlds (published in 2012) is an anthology filled with adoptees that are living proof that the adoption/assimilation plan backfired. Adoption didn’t kill our spirit or destroy our blood. The adoptees in this book did reunite with their relatives and tribes, despite closed adoptions.
Now with the amount of adoptees who’ve opened their adoption, including me, I’d imagine there would be more news and media coverage, right? No. Somehow the US adoption industry has its reputation and bankrolls to protect, and their jobs to protect, so they must protect their territory, control the message or lose their business.
I see how it works. A young lady doctor from California said to me a few days ago, “I wish to adopt a child and save them from being an orphan.” I have heard and read those exact words before. The adoption industry has controlled that message and this mindset from their very beginning. This very nice doctor is young and open-minded so I asked her to consider that a child has its own name and ancestry – and would she consider becoming a legal guardian instead of an adoptive parent? I told her to get children out of the foster care system and if she could, raise as many children as she could afford. She is undoubtedly going to read up and do research, based on our conversation.
In the old mindset and in many adopters’ minds, there are still orphans! Can they imagine each baby has a mother and both are usually from a Third World Country, including Indian reservations in North American still plagued by poverty; and beyond that each baby has a country and relatives – so hardly anyone in the world is a true orphan!
That very old mindset has not been altered since the early 1900s (or 1958 when I was adopted). That is how you control the message. This doctor is among thousands of people planning to adopt in the near future with no clue how adoptees feel about this – even in 2012.
My point here is we have to do the work to change that mindset and control the message ourselves. We have to take to the streets and call lawyers and get lawmakers to open adoption records in every state. Until then, the adoption industry is winning and will still control the message.

*No one had done a blog for American Indian Adoptees like this prior, by the way. I started research in 2005, wrote my memoir on this history, and then created this blog in 2009 with medical studies, ideas, news and updates.

(part four was accidentally moved/deleted) (but will be reposted when I locate it on this machine)

PART SIX: Victims of Adoptions and Lies: Identification (reposting)

Part 5


This series ran in 2012 on American Indian Adoptees (www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com). It was my most popular series on the topic of adoption…

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Black Market Adoption in Indian Country: Stolen Navajo Twins

Boston Globe
June 2, 1996

REUNION DAY AT 43: NAVAJO NATIVE FINALLY HOME

Author: Royal Ford, Globe Staff

TOLANI LAKE, Ariz. -- She stood in brilliant white sunlight, scuffed the cracked skin of the vast, parched land and stared down at the very spot where the old woman told her she had been born, right there, in a hogan that is gone, beside a field where corn once grew.
The woman her family called "the old aunt" reached up with a warm, dark hand and touched her high cheekbone. "You are so like your mother," Besbah Yazzie told her. Weeping in the baked expanse of the Navajo Reservation, they hugged. Yvette Silverman Melanson, stolen along with a twin brother from her Navajo family 43 years ago, raised rich, white and Jewish in Brooklyn, was finally home.

"One more of us is still out there and a whole lot more of the others," Melanson said in reference to her missing brother and thousands of other Native American children stolen from their families over the years and put on the black market for adoption. "This is not right. We have to find them. We have to find the boy."
Navajo natives had come from across the reservation to welcome her home. 

In a hot gymnasium here, 60 miles northeast of Flagstaff, the Tolani Roadman -- Medicine Man -- had wept as he told her tale in the native tongue. Behind him, Yazzie Monroe, her father, brushed tears from his weathered cheeks. The old women of the tribe wore their finest turquoise and silver in her honor. Children danced in a colorful whirl of beads and feathers.
"I don't know my own culture," Melanson told the gathering. "I am going to need your help in understanding. I am humbled. "Teach me, teach my children" she said.
She stood amid the swirling talc-like dust of the reservation, a long way from the cloying green spring back in her Maine home and further still from the life she has lived thus far. 
As a child, there had been winters at a fine Miami hotel, summer camp in Pennsylvania. Later came long trips to Israel where she marched the length of that land and stood military guard at her kibbutz. After her adoptive parents had both died, there were two stints in the Navy and, later, marriage to a retired scallop diver named Dickie, with whom she now lives in Palmyra, Maine.
But forever there had been the question, "Who am I?"  
She had always known she was adopted, but until three months ago that was all she knew. Then one night while exploring on her computer, she found out. 
On a national website, she saw that a Navajo family was looking for its lost twins. The trails of her search and theirs crossed in the Southwest. A piece of tattered and fading paper she possessed, bearing the names Yazzie Monroe and Betty Jackson, solved the puzzle. They were the mother and father of the large family that was looking for her.
It was an unlikely trinity, ancient and new, that brought her home: the Internet, that scrap of paper, and the mysterious works of the Holy People on her reservation who had held ceremonies to help find her.
This weekend, that family welcomes her home. She will stay here for two weeks along with her husband and daughters, Lori and Heather. Her mother died years ago, but her father was there to take her, looking almost fragile, into his great brown arms. Her seven brothers and sisters were there, as were numerous nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles, cousins and members of her clan.
"We have always known she was around somewhere," said Nettie Rogers, her sister.  "We want to thank the Holy People for bringing back our child, our daughter, to the center," Freddie Howard, a Tolani Lake official, told a crowd that streamed into a gymnasium for ceremonies welcoming Melanson and her family to her birthplace. 
She had come to the reservation east from Flagstaff, crossing through the Coconino National Forest. The Navajo lands began where the trees ended and a hot, dusty, vastness sprawled ahead. To the South were towns that bespoke stereotypical western violence: Two Guns, Two Arrows; and a place of real cataclysm, a giant crater created when a meteor smashed into the Earth 50,000 years ago.
Across the reservation were the four sacred mountains of her tribe, dark, bruised buttes and colorful mesas that glimmered like poured sand art."I've never seen mountains go straight up," she said as they shimmered in the white light of afternoon.
Her return came as efforts to find the so-called "lost birds" of the Navajo and other tribes across the country have intensified. 
After Melanson's story made national headlines and television news last month, a website previously set up by the Lost Bird Society, founded by a Lakota woman named Marie Not Help Him, was peppered with inquiries.
And it came as the tribes are fighting a bill in Congress that would make the adoption of Indian children by whites easier. It would weaken a federal law passed in 1978 that requires that Indian children removed from their homes be placed with relatives or other Native families.
In welcoming Yvette home, Navajo leaders rose to speak in defense of their children.  "We are more than dances, turquoise and rugs," Genevieve Jackson said in a plea that the outside world understand what is happening to Native children.  
 "Yvette's story is the Navajo story," Delores Grey Eyes added.  
Melanson's father presented her with a Navajo wedding basket symbolizing Mother Earth, Father Sky and a Navajo people planted in harmony between.  He said, as another sister, Laura Chee, interpreted, that he was "happy to have his daughter home, and now he wants to know if they can get the boy back."
"We must let people know what has happened, what is happening through adoptions," Melanson said, clutching the Navajo blanket the tribe had given her. 
"My family, my friends back home, were outraged. They had no idea something like this was happening."
"The taking of the children has to be stopped," she said.
Later, her family took her to her birthsite and told her how she had been taken.  She'd been born in a hogan and was sickly. A public health nurse came and took both her and her brother to the hospital at Winslow. The family never saw them again.
"Your mother would come to the road here," Desbah Yazzie told her, "and she would hitchhike into Winslow, looking for her children. She never found you, and later all they told her was that the children had been adopted."
Yvette Silverman Melanson, born Minnie Bo Monroe, stood in a ceaseless expanse of her birthplace and marveled."You can see forever," she said. "The sky is endless, the land is so big. If someone disappeared, a baby, how would you know which direction to go to even begin to look for them...
 This story is old (1996) but the fact is she is still looking - there are no updates on her lost twin brother....Trace

In Other Words: Susan Harness and Sandy White Hawk

REBLOG: listen at links

Recently, I was interviewed for a radio program in Missoula, Montana regarding my research on American Indian transracial adoption. It originally aired on Montana Public Radio (MTPR.org) Tuesday, December 11th 2012, on the program In Other Words, which explores experiences through a feminist perspective. The interview looks at American Indian transracial adoption and its intersection with race, history and class. If you weren’t able to catch it live, click on the link below to listen now.

http://www.susandevanharness.com/in-other-words-montana-public-radio/#comments

Sandy White Hawk’s Response to Susan Harness


Below is our friend Sandy White Hawk’s response to the podcast we did with our friend Susan Harness. Enjoy.
_______________
Dear Kevin, (Land of Gazillion Adoptees)
I wanted to respond to Susan Harness’ reference to the Southeast Asian tradition the Gifting of a child as an alternative to standard adoption.
In Indian Country a traditional alternative to standard adoption practice is now developing.  It is called Customary Adoption or Custom Adoption. Long before first European contact Indian nations had a custom that kept and maintained balance with their communities; adoption was one of those customs.
Tribes are beginning to reclaim their traditional ways of maintaining family connections for those who would otherwise be separated from their families and communities if the family was struggling in taking care of their children.
The White Earth Tribe Band of Ojibwe of Minnesota has been the leader in developing this practice in its tribal court. Adoption money, SSI and other benefits follow the child in the process just as in a standard adoption. The major difference is parental rights are not terminated. In White Earth they use the term “suspended.”

Monday, April 24, 2017

UPDATES: In The Veins, Goldwater #ICWA lawsuit

www.bluehandbooks.org
In the Veins poetry anthology editor Patricia Busbee (adoptee, Cherokee mix) spoke with Dr. Dawn Karima (who also contributed stunning poetry to this book) about Native poetry and our history recently:

LISTEN:
http://talktainmentradio.com/podcasts/Conversation%20with%20Dawn%20Karima%20042417.mp3

****

Notice of Appeal in Goldwater ICWA Litigation


As they promised they would, Goldwater filed their notice of appeal to the 9th Circuit in the Arizona ICWA class action case.

Here.

Order they are appealing is here.

As always, documents in the case will be housed here.


***LOST CHILDREN  BOOK SERIES

This highly-anticipated collection is part of a history-making book series Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects.  This series includes TWO WORLDS (Vol. 1), CALLED HOME: The Road Map (Vol. 2), and STOLEN GENERATIONS: Survivors of the Indian Adoption Projects and 60s Scoop (Vol. 3).  
IN THE VEINS (Vol. 4)  ISBN: 978-0692832646 $9.99, will share part of its proceeds with Standing Rock Water Protectors.
Paperback $9.99   Kindle ebook $3.96

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dawnland: Maine's Stolen Generations

Dawnland Trailer from Upstander Project on Vimeo.

About the film

When most people hear about children ripped from their families, they think of faraway places or of centuries past. The reality is it's been happening in the U.S. for centuries—and is still happening today. Native American children are more than twice as likely as non-Native children to be taken from their families and put into foster care, according to a 2013 study.
Americans should know that these atrocities are not history. 

READ MORE

We mention this documentary in the anthology STOLEN GENERATIONS (see sidebar)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My birth certificate is literally ‘fake news’

Connecticut is the home to many Native adoptees who were transferred and adopted there from Washington state - yes, all the way across the country! That is the Indian Adoption Projects and ARENA in action.


Older birth parents and relatives are dying off, so are some of the adoptees leaving their children and grandchildren with big holes in their personal family health histories.  Adds Caffery, “We feel strongly that time is of the essence. It’s time to end this failed social experiment of secrecy and shame. It’s time to threat us as full citizens of our country and our state.”

Monday, April 17, 2017

Special Needs Adoption

Adoption Fairness Bill: Bipartisan Legislation for Tribal Special Needs Children



Adoption tax credit fairness for tribes: Bill would give parents adopting tribal special needs children an adoption tax credit available to ...
Read More »


Click here to learn more about the bill and Click here to read a letter of support from Chairman Dave Archambault II on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
 

Canada’s Child Welfare Crisis in 2017

Op-Ed in Maclean’s About Canada’s Child Welfare Crisis

Here, by Pam Palmater. Canada’s numbers of Native children in care may be currently worse than pre-ICWA numbers in the United States (Task Force Four Report).
The increasing number of First Nations children being placed into foster care in Canada is nothing short of a crisis. Although Indigenous children make up only seven per cent of the population in Canada, they represent 48 per cent of all children in foster care. It is an astounding number until one examines these rates on a province-by-province basis. In Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Indigenous children represent a shocking 73 per cent, 85 per cent and 87 per cent of all children in care respectively, according to the most recent Statistics Canada report. However, Manitoba reports that their numbers of Indigenous children in care are increasing and currently stands at 90 per cent, which represents one of the highest rates in the world. This isn’t much of a surprise given that one newborn is taken away from his or her mother every day in Manitoba as a matter of course—the vast majority being Indigenous. They are not the only provinces implicated as Indigenous children in Ontario are 168 per cent more likely to be taken into care than white children.

MORE: Prisons are the ‘new residential schools’

Friday, April 14, 2017

the Indigenous Rights Movement in Canada Honored with Top Amnesty Intl Award


Published April 14, 2017

MONTREAL – Celebrated global music artist and activist Alicia Keys and the inspirational movement of Indigenous Peoples fighting for their rights in Canada have been honored with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2017, the human rights organization announced today.
The award will be officially presented at a ceremony in Montréal, Canada, on May 27.
Accepting the award recognizing the Indigenous rights movement of Canada will be six individuals representing the strength and diversity of the movement, which has bravely fought to end discrimination and ensure the safety and well-being of Indigenous families and communities. They are Cindy Blackstock, Delilah Saunders, Melanie Morrison, Senator Murray Sinclair, Melissa Mollen Dupuis and Widia Larivière.

Cindy Blackstock hopes that the award will help to focus global attention on the injustices still prevalent in Canada today.
As head of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, she led a decade-long legal battle against the underfunding of social services for First Nations children. In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued a landmark ruling calling on the federal government to take immediate action to end its discriminatory practices.
However, the Canadian government has continued to drag its feet in fully complying with the ruling, meaning that First Nations children are still suffering discrimination.
“The conscience of the people is awakening to the Canadian government’s ongoing racial discrimination towards First Nations children and their families,” said Cindy Blackstock. “Now the question is: What are we going to do about it? Are we going to allow Canada to celebrate its 150th birthday while it bathes in racism, or will we speak up and demand the discrimination stops?”


READ: Alicia Keys and the Indigenous Rights Movement in Canada Honored with Top Amnesty Intl Award - Native News Online

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Rights of an Indian Child

The Rights of Indian Children ABA Article


The tribe I worked for decided to “bring the children home” through a focus on children in their community and ensuring resources to support that work. Many strategies were employed, depending on case specifics. Ensuring the tribal children were closer to home, both in proximity and culturally, was the goal. Some cases achieved the goal through reunification with the natural parents, others by placement within kinship care from stranger foster care. One of the primary practices was the transfer of cases to tribal court when the parents were amenable. In the end we brought all but one child back into tribal custody with an over 75 percent kinship placement rate.



AND 2017 ICWA OFFICERS (27 page pdf)


Print them out and use them PLEASE:
2017-Designated Agents for ICWA Service

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Darker Agenda: Is the adoption industry looking to monetize our children or worse #goldwater

A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Trying to Bring Down the Indian Child Welfare Act. Why? | The Nation

Here.
 ...A ruling in Goldwater’s favor, according to Fort and other legal experts, could undermine the authority of tribal courts, shutter tribal casinos, and open up reservations to privatization, something that could benefit oil and gas developers like the Koch brothers. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Indian School Road

In Indian School Road, journalist Chris Benjamin tackles the controversial and tragic history of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School, its predecessors, and its lasting effects, giving voice to multiple perspectives for the first time. Benjamin integrates research, interviews, and testimonies to guide readers through the varied experiences of students, principals, and teachers over the school’s nearly forty years of operation (1930–1967) and beyond. Exposing the raw wounds of Truth and Reconciliation as well as the struggle for an inclusive Mi’kmaw education system, Indian School Road is a comprehensive and compassionate narrative history of the school that uneducated hundreds of Aboriginal children.
Source: Indian School Road

Monday, April 3, 2017

Reconciliation Pole installed on UBC Vancouver campus

Reconciliation Pole at UBC nails the past to confront harsh reality of residential schools

NATIONAL

 
Reconciliation Pole at UBC nails the past to confront harsh reality of residential schools
One of the most distinctive parts of Reconciliation Pole are the copper nails. It has 68,000 of them pounded flat into the surface. Each one represents an indigenous child who died at residential schools across the country, said Haida artist James Hart, who was commissioned to design and carve the totem pole.  Click here to read more ...

Today's Book of Poetry: Burning In This Midnight Dream - Louise Bernice ...



Louise Bernice Halfe Sky Dancer has published a third volume of poetry, Burning In This Midnight Dream, and it is a burning indictment, a hushed prayer, an angry account.  Burning In This Midnight Dream articulates some of Canada's worst history from the inside looking out.  

These poems are an insider's nightmare memories of Canada's residential schools.

Halfe/Sky Dancer is a quiet poet of considerable reserve yet these poems rumble with thunderous revelations that reverberate off of the page, run up your arms and attack your guilty heart.
nipin nikamowin - summer song

I listened to outrageous laughter
there by the stone-carving shelter
where children painted and listened
to Alex Janvier.
Year after year
on the grounds of Blue Quills
I shared a tent with a friend and we told stories
of those lonely nights and how we preserved
our broken Cree.
I walked, ran, skipped
swore and sang the fourteen miles
from that school all the way to Saddle Lake.
We were told by our guide to meditate, be silent
in our walk. How could we after our voices
where lost in the classrooms of that school?
When I reached my home reserve
the Old Ones received me
and danced me on my blistered feet.
Water, tea, fruit, bannock and deer stew.
What food would heal this wound
bundled against my back?
A child still crying in those long school nights.
I know of a man who still carries his suitcase,
began at six, now sixty years, carrying
those little treasures of home
that was forever gone.
...
Burning In This Midnight Dream is a peat fire of poetry.  You don't see any flames on the surface but you know for certain that you are on hot footing and that all is ablaze underneath, smoldering and determined.

Halfe/Sky Dancer has included several family photos along with the text and this case is the exception that proves the rule about photos and poetry.  These photos are necessary.  The poems work just fine on their own, they are all strong, exude the strength of a brave survivor, but these photos make the stories blood, flesh and bone.  We see the young children in a new and different context, we see them as clearly as the "boy in the striped pajamas," the red-coated lost girl in the opening frames of Steven Spielberg's Shindler's List.  The fine and perfect faces in these photos are calling out through these poems.
Residential School Alumni

An uncle shot his wife
left her lying behind the house
with the rifle at her side.
Their four children peered
behind the curtains.
He was never able to look at anyone.
A lake held him as he froze, standing,
clutching his traps.
One son joined the marines
a mosquito killed him in Vietnam.
In a police chase another son
hit a slough and drowned in his grave.
Their little brother slept in a flaming
house with needles, spoons, heroin and cocaine.
My cousin was left alone.
I remember them.
...
Our morning read here in the Today's book of poetry offices was a little more sombre than usual but that's not to say we didn't enjoy the poems.  We certainly respected them.
Louise Bernice Halfe Sky Dancer wants the Truth and Reconciliation process to succeed.  Burning In This Midnight Dream is an honourable attempt to plow as much truth into the open as the open can bear.

Friday, March 31, 2017

NICWA Conference largest conference on record

Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians Provides Host Sponsorship of NICWA Conference

Published March 31, 2017

PORTLAND, OREGON — The National Indian Child Welfare Association received a $20,000 host sponsorship from the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians for this year’s 35th Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, to be held at Harrah’s Resort Southern California, a facility owned by the Tribe, in Valley Center, California.

This year’s sponsorship by the Tribe will help NICWA bring a wide range of workshops and relationship building opportunities for child welfare workers, tribal leaders, and ICWA advocates from all across Indian Country and maintain the conference as the premier national gathering to discuss best practices in Indian child welfare.

Established in 1875, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians traces its Southern California ancestry back 10,000 years, and the tribal council governs 500 members with jurisdiction over a 6,000 acre reservation in Valley Center, California. Rincon uses profits from its commercial enterprises located on reservation to fund government services and economic diversification on behalf of the reservation and Rincon people. Engaged in an economic partnership with neighboring communities, the Rincon Band shares its good fortune with North County San Diego, through tribal government donations to worthy causes that contribute to the welfare and health of the region, including NICWA’s annual conference.

When reflecting on the Tribe’s sponsorship for the annual conference, Rincon tribal chairman Bo Mazzetti remarked, “Native people have a unique task of overcoming the past and the sobering statistics that haunt reservations. We must find ways to treat the trauma, health, mental, and social problems that pass from one generation to another. We must give our children love, mentoring, and positive examples. We must educate all of our families on how to raise healthy, resilient children. It behooves each and every individual to take responsibility for creating a world where our children are loved, where their needs are met, and where they are valued for their unique strengths and gifts.”

NICWA executive director Sarah Kastelic noted, “We are truly grateful to the Rincon tribal government and people. NICWA’s annual conference is only possible with the generous contributions of sponsors. With Rincon’s support and partnership, 2017 will be NICWA’s largest conference on record. More than 1,100 people have pre-registered to participate in this incredible training and networking opportunity that builds the knowledge and skill set of service providers and leaders working to protect Native children and keep Native families together.”

Monday, March 27, 2017

Manitoba child welfare agency in ‘chaos’


...children put at risk following political intervention



 

A Manitoba child welfare agency serving some of the poorest First Nations in the country is in “chaos” following the political intervention of chiefs who forced the temporary suspension of its executive director, according to an internal source.

The source, who is not authorized to speak publicly, said there is growing concern the actions by the four chiefs of the Island Lake Tribal Council to temporarily push aside the Island Lake First Nations Family Services agency’s executive director, Brenda Wood, has put children at risk.

“I knock on wood every day so nothing happens. And if something happens, who is it on?” said the source. “Is it on us and our negligence?”

In mid-February, three of the four Island Lake Tribal Council Chiefs—Garden Hill First Nation Chief Dino Flett, Red Sucker Lake Chief Sam Knott, and St. Theresa Point Chief David McDougall—sent a letter to the Island Lake Family Services board directing them to place Wood on temporary paid leave and complete a report on her “management style.” Tribal Council Chair and Wasagamack Chief Alex McDougall did not sign the letter but supported the move.

The board, which is appointed by the chief and council of each of the four communities, immediately complied despite supporting Wood’s efforts to reform the agency. Wood was put on temporary leave and the board took over management of the agency.

Now the agency is in complete turmoil, according to the source.

“It is really chaotic over there right now and it has been ever since (Wood) left,” said the source. “There is a lot of confusion, a lack of direction.”

Wood only became executive director of the agency in 2015 and faced a monumental challenge. The agency, which serves a region afflicted by the legacy of residential schools and deep poverty, has repeatedly been found by provincial and federal reviews of failing to provide a proper standard of child welfare care.

“She inherited a big mess,” said the source. “I have seen how this place was run before, when everybody did what they wanted. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of accountability…. This is why the new executive director does what she does. She understands the severity. People need to pull up their boots straps or get out of the way and let somebody else who is willing to do their jobs, do their jobs.”

The agency is overseen by the First Nations of Manitoba Child and Family Services Authority—also known as the Northern Authority which said last week it was monitoring the situation.

A spokesperson for the Northern Agency said there were ongoing and direct consultations with the Island Lake First Nations Family Services agency. The spokesperson said a development on those consultations could be announced within days.

The source said the chiefs moved against Wood because her efforts to reform the agency led to the termination of several people, including two who were politically connected. The source said Wood had also not been given the opportunity to defend herself against the allegations related to her management style.

“There is a real witch hunt out there for her, they just want her gone,” said the source. “The real unfortunate thing about this too is that she never had the opportunity to communicate any of this.”
Wood was trying to slowly reform the agency, said the source. One of her main accomplishments since taking on the job was increasing special needs assessments for children at risk in the four communities—the agency also has a sub-office in Winnipeg.

“In the north, almost no kids had special needs assessments and those assessments were not getting done,” said the source. “Just before she was placed on leave, there was actually a person put there to specifically do special needs assessment.”

Wood was also trying to create a program to put parents and their children out on the land to do traditional activities and bond. She also assigned an employee to work specifically on the project.
“I know she was really pushing hard to have this up and going quickly—not in 10 years—she wanted this done properly and she wanted it done quickly,” said the source. “I think the overall picture is children and their parents would go there, there would be workers there. For example, it’s a good opportunity for a father and his children to bond…. A lot would be about re-exploring the role of family members. I think that has been really lost, one of the effects of colonization.”

Follow: jbarrera@aptn.ca


Friday, March 24, 2017

Who's Your Daddy?

Possibly the cruellest reality show ever committed to tape, Who’s Your Daddy? began as a six-part series in which a woman was put into a room with 25 older men and asked to guess which of them was her real estranged biological father. If she guessed correctly, she won $100,000. If she didn’t, the actor she picked as her father would win the money. To underline how monstrous this is, look at the video below. A tearful woman asks a man why he gave her up. He cries, tells her that she was conceived in a moment of love and confesses that not a day has passed where he hasn’t thought of her. Except that man is an actor. He’s the one who uploaded the video to YouTube, along with the description: “My performance on this Fox Reality series almost won me $100,000.” Gruesome. So gruesome, in fact, that Fox pulled five of the six episodes before they’d aired.



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Levi EagleFeather: "The Power of Peaceful Resistance" | Talks at Google



Use the search bar for more on Levi Eagle Feather on this blog.  He has chapters in the book STOLEN GENERATIONS and CALLED HOME, in the Lost Children book series.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Called Home: Read excerpts



Last October we republished this book.

 [2nd Ed.] An important contribution to American Indian history told by its own lost children/adult survivors, American Indian and First Nations adoptees and family... Editors Patricia Busbee and Trace L. Hentz are writers and adoptees who reunited with their own lost relatives. From recent news about Baby Veronica, Canada’s 60s Scoop, and history such as Operation Papoose, this book examines how Native American adoptees and their families experienced adoption and were exposed to the genocidal policies of governments who created Indian adoption projects. "Adoptees do need a road map and that is what other adoptees have created," Hentz said about this anthology and book series. The second anthology in the Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects Book Series is published by Blue Hand Books in Massachusetts. CALLED HOME offers even more revelations of this hidden history of Indian child removals in North America, their impact on Indian Country and how it impacts the adoptee and their entire family. “We have created a body of work, a roadmap for adoptees coming after us. Governments stole the land and stole children. It’s time the world know,” Hentz said.

In the chapter ROADMAP: DNA and ICWA, we explain how to use ICWA to open your adoption file in the courts. BUY NOW

Sarah Kastelic: Enforcing the Indian Child Welfare Act to Protect Native...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Goldwater Litigation on the Constitutionality of ICWA Dismissed Without Prejudice #StrongIndianFamilies


This is the attempted class action litigation claiming ICWA violated the Constitution.
This is a big win for ICWA and the legal advocates who worked on this case at the state, federal, and tribal levels.

Here is the Order.
The legal questions Plaintiffs wish to adjudicate here in advance of injury to themselves will be automatically remediable for anyone actually injured. The very allegations of wrongfulness are that such injuries will arise in state court child custody proceedings, directly in the court processes or in actions taken by state officers under the control and direction of judges in those proceedings. Any true injury to any child or interested adult can be addressed in the state court proceeding itself, based on actual facts before the court, not on hypothetical concerns. If any Plaintiffs encounter future real harm in their own proceedings, the judge in their own case can discern the rules of decision. They do not have standing to have this Court pre-adjudicate for state court judges how to rule on facts that may arise and that may be governed by statutes or guidelines that this Court may think invalid.
Here is the joint press release from the ICWA Defense Project.

The ICWA Defense Project is a coalition of NICWA, NARF, NCAI, and the ICWA Appellate Project to provide assistance and updates to tribes and other interested partners on the federal challenges to ICWA.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Forum: Education continues on Wabanaki plight #ICWA

Forum: Education continues on Wabanaki plight:

LEWISTON — In 2015, a report focusing on Maine Wabanaki children and decades of discriminatory practices in the child welfare system was meant to spark changes and begin the healing process for the state's native tribes.

For Wabanakis and members of Maine-Wabanaki REACH, a group tasked with implementing the report's recommendations, that process is far from over.

Speaking during a Great Falls Forum in Lewiston on Thursday, Maine Wabanaki REACH Community Organizers Barbara Kates and Tom Reynolds underlined the importance of the work that had been accomplished but said more outreach and more education is needed.

The pair led a presentation titled “Truth, Healing and Change: Why Maine Needed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” which refers to the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in 2013. 

The commission was charged with taking an intimate look at the causes behind the "disproportionate removal" from families of Native American children who were put into the child welfare system.
Among the biggest takeaways from its report was that Native American children in Maine were five times as likely to be placed in foster care as non-native children; Wabanaki children's native ancestry is often not identified during intake procedures; and the presence of institutional racism in state systems and the public.

The commission, made up of native and non-native members, was regarded as the first of its kind in the United States.

Since then, Kates said, the work of REACH, which stands for Reconciliation-Engagement-Advocacy-Change-Healing, has been, now that the truth is known, "What do we do now?"
A snippet from an upcoming full-length documentary detailing the emotional commission process was screened during Thursday's event, held at the Lewiston Public Library.

In compiling the report, the commission collected more than 150 statements from Wabanaki survivors, their families, foster families and employees of the state child welfare system.
In one such statement, a woman recalls being taken from her family for no reason, and as an adult, still didn't know why. Another remembered sitting in bleach with her sister while in foster care, "trying to convince each other that we were getting white."

REACH began as a collaboration of state and tribal child welfare workers who knew from their work together that major inequities existed in the way the state dealt with family issues within native communities.

Since the release of the report, REACH is still scheduling speaking events to educate Mainers on the history of the Wabanaki and native children, which have experienced forced assimilation dating back to the 1800s.

Kates and Reynolds provided a brief historical overview, including why Maine became a focal point on child welfare. During the 1950s and 1960s, national child welfare practices encouraged removing Native Americans from their communities and placing them in foster care. Boarding schools designed to assimilate Native Americans were also still prevalent.

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, the Indian Child Welfare Act, adopted in 1978, "marked one step toward upholding tribal rights, but effective implementation was another, and many states, including Maine, struggled with that process in the years after the law’s passage."
The act was meant to prioritize keeping Native American children in their homes within their tribal communities.

Reynolds said Maine was pressed by the federal government in the early 1990s to boost compliance with the act because of numbers that were still high, and was still struggling with it well into the 2000s.

"They kept finding that they were hitting their heads against a brick wall," he said, referring to continued issues leading up to the commission. "They realized they needed to dig deeper," he said.
Questions from the audience Thursday hit on education and what's next. Kates was asked whether local schools are adding the correct Wabanaki history into their curriculums.

Kates said no other state has yet to conduct a similar truth and reconciliation commission.
Penthea Burns, co-director of Maine-Wabanaki REACH, was originally scheduled to speak during the forum but had a conflict, Kates said.

Joe Hall, an associate professor of history at Bates College, introduced the speakers. 
Hall said Thursday's discussion was timely because school budgets are being drafted statewide.
"We get the opportunity to think about how we raise our children, which is not something that Wabanakis have always had the luxury of," he said. 

Kates has been involved with designing and delivering community presentations and ally-building workshops to increase understanding of Maine's shared history with the Wabanaki people.

Kates said that as a child welfare worker, it has been a "steep learning curve" in recognizing the complicated Wabanaki history. The commission found that there is still resistance to the idea that native people continue to experience "cultural genocide."

She said work to implement the recommendations from the study is ongoing. Those recommendations include the development of new trainings for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, as well as legal and judicial offices, a policy to monitor compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act and better support for foster and adoptive families.

The work of the commission, she said, opened the door for changes.

"It's the idea that we're here now," she said. "What do we do now?"

arice@sunjournal.com

Sacred Water: Standing Rock Part I - RISE (Full Episode)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Oglala Sioux Tribe members form children's advocacy group

South Dakota legalizes religious-based discrimination in adoptions, Oglala Sioux Tribe members form children's advocacy group

South Dakota’s SB 149 did explicitly mention ‘due regard’ for the Indian Child Welfare Act. The state has a history of removing Native youth from their cultural contexts, a practice that was aided by Christian boarding schools with forced ‘assimilation’ programs. Lakota families in particular experienced high rates of involuntary separation.
When two severely malnourished and abused girls were found on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation last November, community members near and far gathered to take action on the tribe’s own terms. As Jim Kent reports, the newly-formed “Embracing Our Children’s Health” group focuses on empowering, encouraging, assisting, and supporting existing programs and organizations for children and their families on the reservation.
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The Pine Ridge Reservation is located along the border between South Dakota and Nebraska. It’s home to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, also known as the Lakota.

Every. Day.

Every. Day.
adoptees take back adoption narrative and reject propaganda

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Three Years already

Join!

National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCWN)

Membership Application Form

The Network is open to all Indigenous and Foster Care Survivors any time.

The procedure is simple: Just fill out the form HERE.

Source Link: NICWSN Membership

Customer Review

Thought-provoking and moving 11 October 2012
Two Worlds - Lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects

If you thought that ethnic cleansing was something for the history books, think again. This work tells the stories of Native American Indian adoptees "The Lost Birds" who continue to suffer the effects of successive US and Canadian government policies on adoption; policies that were in force as recently as the 1970's. Many of the contributors still bear the scars of their separation from their ancestral roots. What becomes apparent to the reader is the reality of a racial memory that lives in the DNA of adoptees and calls to them from the past.
The editors have let the contributors tell their own stories of their childhood and search for their blood relatives, allowing the reader to gain a true impression of their personalities. What becomes apparent is that nothing is straightforward; re-assimilation brings its own cultural and emotional problems. Not all of the stories are harrowing or sad; there are a number of heart-warming successes, and not all placements amongst white families had negative consequences. But with whom should the ultimate decision of adoption reside? Government authorities or the Indian people themselves? Read Two Worlds and decide for yourself.

Read this SERIES

Read this SERIES
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ADOPTION TRUTH

As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

Our Fault? (no)

Leland at Goldwater Protest

#defendicwa

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